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Who and what inspires you these days?

I'm inspired by the ordinary: the stargazer lilies in bloom for instance, and how they triggered a poem about my mother. I'm inspired always by the poetry of Patrick Lane. He has taken to including a poem in his emails, which I find wonderful. I keep meaning to do this myself. Patrick has two poetry retreats a year which I attend, and they have been a great source of inspiration for me, as well as the work of the excellent poets who attend. I am also inspired by the poetry I hear every week at Planet Earth Poetry (formerly Mocamopo). This series has been going on in Victoria for 12 years, and listening to poetry and reading my own have taught me what it means to be a poet.

What books of poetry are you reading?

I'm reading Yvonne Blomer's A Broken Mirror, Fallen Leaf; Margo Button's Blue Dahlias; Anne Compton's Processional; Pam Porter's Stones Call Out. I dip in and out of Lorna Crozier's Whetstone. I have so many books of poetry that I need a new bookshelf.

Do you have a favourite quote about poetry?

My friend Liz Zetlin said to me once, "poetry is the shortest distance between two hearts" and I immediately stole it. I know this is true. Sometimes, when I read poems to people, particularly one to one, they weep or laugh or grab hold of me. I've heard this 100 times: "you've made my day".

What advice do you offer to the rookie poetry reader?

Read poems aloud. That's how they are at their best. If the poem doesn't sing, or make you laugh or is just too complicated, find one that you can understand. Go to the library, pull down a book at random. Come to Planet Earth Poetry on Friday nights at Black Stilt Cafe and listen. Read a poem a day for a month. You will be changed.

How has poetry changed you?

Poetry has changed my life in ways I never thought possible. It has connected me with people all over Canada. Here is one of the best poetry stories I have. One of the first people I ever wrote a poem for on a WestJet flight wanted a poem about his daughter. I wrote it. Then he asked me to write a poem about his friend. I did. His friend turned out to be a great patron of the arts, and I later met him. We became friends. He is now the anonymous supporter of Random Acts of Poetry. He matches whatever money we get from other sources, and has done so for the last 3 years. For two years Random Acts of Poetry was supported by abebooks. This year it is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts. This lovely man, this patron of the arts, also believes that poetry is the shortest distance between two hearts.

Wendy Morton's works copyright © to the author.

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